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Sun 1 Nov 2009 02:59 PM

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Hotel group aims to become Mideast's biggest

Millennium & Copthorne to bring three new brands to region as part of expansion.

Millennium & Copthorne Middle East will bring three new brands to the region in its quest to reach 100 hotels in the Middle East by 2015.

Partner and president of Millennium & Copthorne Middle East Ali Lakhraim said this was as part of the ultimate aim to become the largest hotel management company in MENA.

Firstly, Millennium will launch its famous Biltmore brand in "every city", said Lakhraim in comments published by Hotelier Middle East.

The luxury brand is best recognised by the Millennium Biltmore Hotel Los Angeles. Built in 1923, the landmark hotel is a regular haunt for celebrities and presidents and has appeared in a number of films, including The Fabulous Baker Boys, Chinatown, Ghostbusters and Bugsy.

“It’s exactly what Starwood did with the St. Regis out of New York, but if you look at the history of the two there is no comparison.

The Biltmore is where the Hollywood stars meet,” Lakhraim said.

“We are now in implementation stage of bringing this brand to the Middle East. We’re already talking to different owners for developing Biltmore here. We already have commitment from certain owners.

“There will be one Biltmore hotel in each city; Millennium wants to build everywhere from London to Singapore and in the Middle East; all cities, including Dubai and Abu Dhabi,” he added.

Lakhraim revealed that the brand in the Middle East would take on a “palace style” with convention facilities, but asserted “it’s not Emirates Palace or Shangri-La; it’s somewhere inbetween”.

In addition to Biltmore, Lakhraim said he was in the process of creating a real estate fund for the group’s Studio M concept in the Middle East and North Africa, with hotels to be owned and managed by the group. “It’s a luxury hotel across two floors that will be affordable for people travelling on a budget,” said Lakhraim.

He also revealed that a four-star brand, similar to Millenium’s Copthorne product, would soon be launched in the Middle East.

“Copthorne will remain, however, that brand is not very well known and people cannot pronounce the name sometimes. Copthorne’s an old English brand that is better known in Europe. We’re currently working with a branding expert to finalise a new four-star concept,” said Lakhraim.

He added that the company’s expansion would involve acquiring hotel management companies and converting some of its sister business Emirates Hotels Company’s properties to Millennium-branded hotels.

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